FIELD OF THE INVENTION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to water play structures and, in particular, to
an interactive participatory water play system for entertaining and educating small
and intermediate-age children.
The popularity of family-oriented water theme parks and recreational
water facilities has increased dramatically in the last decade. Water parks have
proliferated as adults and children alike, seek the thrill and entertainment of water
parks as a healthy and enjoyable way to cool off in the hot summer months.
Most water them parks, like their dry counterparts, consist primarily of
ride attractions. The most popular among these are water slides in which
participants slide down a wet trough or tunnel and splash down into a pool of water.
As demand for such water attractions has increased, water parks have continued to
evolve ever larger and more complex water slides to thrill and entertain growing
numbers of water play participants. Other popular ride attractions include surfing
wave simulators, log flumes and white-water rafting. While these water ride
attractions are very popular, particularly among older children and adults, a
common complaint is that participants often must spend more time waiting in line
for the various rides than actually riding on them. Also, many of the most popular
water rides are unsuited for small children because of the inherent dangers of
drowning or possible uncontrolled collision with other ride participants.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
As a result, families with small children often have to split their time
between either participating in the more popular rides or looking after the small
children. While most water parks have recreational facilities for entertaining small
children, they are generally limited to small wading pools, miniature water slides,
and static play structures. While these may be moderately entertaining for small
children, they fail to entertain parents or provide the creative stimulation and
interactive educational experience that captivates the imaginations of small and
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an
interactive, participatory water play system that allows children of nearly all ages to
play together and to combine their creative inspiration and imaginations to achieve
various desired water effects. It is a further object of the present invention to
provide a play structure that is entertaining for adults as well as children. It is a
further object of the present invention to provide a single play structure in which the
entire family can participate and interact with one another without having to wait in
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, an
interactive, participatory water play system is provided for entertaining one or more
play participants, The water play system comprises one or more support structures
and one or more conduits for supplying water to various water play elements
mounted in, on, or adjacent to the support structure. The conduit or conduits may
be associated with the support structure, which may comprise a frame.
A first interactive participatory water play element is provided comprising
a water forming device and a corresponding control actuator for allowing play
participants to selectively control the water forming device to create a first water
effect. A second participatory water play element receives water from the first
water effect to create a second water effect. By activating the actuator, which may
be accomplished by pulling on one or more ropes and/or by turning one or more
valves and/or by moving one or more handles, play participants are able to control
the order and magnitude of the water effects. Furthermore, play participants can
observe and experiment with various cause-and-effect reactions involving multiple-order
water effects. The use of pull-ropes further enhances this cause-and-effect
mystery. This invention embodies pull-ropes rigged through one or more ship
blocks and routed back and forth through a series of passages, which may include
pulleys, so that the effect of each rope is not readily apparent to the play
participants. Some valves, handles and/or pull-ropes may be configured to cause
one or more local effects, while others may be configured to cause one or more
remote effects, thus enhancing the play experience by requiring the participants to
experiment to figure out the effect or effects of each valve, handle and/or pull-rope.
In accordance with another embodiment, an exciting new water effect is
provided comprising a vessel such as a trough, giant bucket, cauldron, reservoir or
other container for collecting water discharged from a water forming device. The
vessel may be stationary, may be configured to produce a flow of water when filled
to a desired level, and/or may be balanced and conditionally stable so that it spills
over when filled to a desired level and/or when a play participant pulls on an
associated pull-rope. The vessel may also be configured to create other dramatic
visual and sound effects to allow the play participants to surprise, entertain and
amuse themselves along with other play participants.
In accordance with yet another embodiment, a multiple-order water effect
is provided for allowing play participants to observe and experiment with various
cause-and-effect reactions involving water. The water effect comprises a first
participatory water play element having an incoming flow of water controlled by
one or more play participants to create a first water effect. A second participatory
water play element is provided for receiving water from the first water effect to
create yet a second water effect. By controlling the first and second water play
elements with hand wheels and pull-rope actuators, play participants can observe
and experiment with various multiple-order cause-and-effect reactions involving
water. Additionally, the use of multiple-pull-rope actuators adds an element of
mystery and surprise. The play participants can experiment with the different ropes
to discover what each does. Furthermore, because many of the ropes are rigged
through ship blocks, it may not be readily observable what each rope will do when
pulled on, thus enhancing the surprise element when a participant discovers what
effect each rope will have.
In accordance with yet another embodiment, a structure conveying a them,
such as resembling a ship complete with a series of ropes and ship blocks, are
provided for children to experiment with and control remote effects by pulling on
the various ropes. For example, one rope may open the water supply valve which
allows a reservoir to be filled with water, the water from the reservoir may then
either be selectively or automatically distributed to a number of other water effects
which are then, in turn, controlled by corresponding pull-ropes. A play participant
may pull a rope which tips and dumps the water contained in the reservoir, pull
another rope to actuate a shower of water, or pull yet another rope which causes the
water to spill through a water-wheel which turns and may control a number of
visual or sound effects. It should be appreciated that the pull-ropes are designed to
be the proper length for small and intermediate-age children to reach them, but no
too long so as to pose a hazard.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will
become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed
description of the preferred embodiments having reference to the attached figures.
Figure 1 is a plan view of the pull-rope actuated play structure.
Figure 2 is a side elevational view of the structure showing various water
play elements with their associated pull-rope actuators.
Figure 3 is a front elevational view of one mast of the structure showing
various water play elements with their corresponding pull-rope actuators.
Figure 4 is a front elevational view of another mast of the structure
showing other interactive water play elements.
Figure 5 is a plan view of one mast of the water play structure in the form
of a vessel which spills into a reservoir containing a floating element.
Figure 6 is a font elevational view of various interactive participatory
water play elements in the form of a rotatable water supply, water-wheel, tipping
reservoir, and multiple-order water troughs.
Figure 7 is a rear elevational view of the water play structure of Figure 6.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Figure 8 is a plan view of the water play structure of Figure 6 showing the
rotatable water supply which play participants selectively control to provide water
to various water play elements.
U.S. Patent No. 5,194,048, first
disclosed the concept of participatory water play in which play participants can
operate any one of a number of valves to adjust the amount of water spraying from
one or more associated nozzles. Play participants adjust the various valves and can
immediately observe the change in the rate of water flowing from the various
associated nozzles. This allows participants to experiment with and learn about
first order cause-and-effect reactions using a familiar and entertaining medium,
In addition, U.S. Patent No. 5,820,471 improved and expanded upon that
theme of participatory water play by introducing second, third, and even higher
order water effects which may be created or activated by a particular combination
of other water effects. Some water effects may have immediate results, while
others may have delayed or require a combination of water effects to have a result.
Some water effects may be local, while others may be remote.
The present invention improves and expands upon the previous inventions
by adding the elements of pull-rope actuators and audible effects in additional to the
visual effects. This improvement not only allows children to control the beginning
of the chain of events, but to also control the intermediate water effects to reach the
desired result. Additionally, play participants can alter the chain of event by having
control of the intermediate water effects.
The following figures illustrate a couple of possible embodiments of a
pull-rope actuated play structure having features of the present invention. This
particular interactive water play system is provided in the form of a dug-out canoe
situated in a remote island setting made complete by corresponding island living
amenities. The first order water elements are located at or along the canoe's mast
which, in turn, conveys the water to the second and higher-ordered water elements.
Of course, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the participatory water
play system of the present invention is not limited to this one preferred
embodiment, but may be implemented in accordance with a wide variety of other
possible exciting play themes. For example, a pirate's ship, submarine, medieval
castle, lost temple, or a fire station, can each provide exciting play themes for
participatory water play systems having benefits and advantages as taught by the
Figure 1 illustrates a plan view of one embodiment of the present
invention showing a dugout canoe 20 theme with its various water play elements.
The masts of the boat support some of the water play elements along with their
corresponding pull-rope actuators. The pull-rope actuators are routed through a
series of ship blocks 22 which make the effect of pulling the rope not visually
apparent. Thus, a play participant may experiment with each pull-rope to determine
its effect. The effect may be to dump water on the play participant, convey water to
the next-ordered water element, or have some remote effect away from the play
participant. In this embodiment, play participants can operate the manual pump 24
defined by the out-rigger structure of the canoe which pumps water to the top of the
mast. The water is selectively distributed to a vessel, such as a tipping cauldron 28,
which tips and dumps its contents when a desired level is reached. The water spills
through a water wheel gear 32 meshed with another wheel gear 36 which controls a
drum beater 40 that beats a thundering drum 44.
Figure 2 is a front elevational view of one embodiment of the present
invention showing a simulated bamboo mast with various water play elements.
This embodiment shows a simulated bamboo pole 120 firmly cemented in the
ground by a concrete footer 124. An underground water supply line supplies water
to the structure. Play participants pull on the vessel feed rope 128 which opens the
valve on the vessel feed 132. The vessel feed 132 fills the spouting vessel 136,
which contains exit spouts to allow the water to exit the spouting vessel and spill on
the play participants below and fill the tipping vessel clam shell 140. The play
participants can then pull the clam shell tip pull-rope 144 to dump the contents of
the tipping vessel clam shell 140 on unsuspecting play participants below.
Additionally, a coconut spouts pull-rope 148 may be pulled to actuate a simulated
coconut shower 232.
Figure 3 is a side elevational view of the water play structure of Figure 2.
This figure adequately represents the relative positioning of the various water play
elements. It will be appreciated that the pull-ropes are routed through pulleys
simulating ship's blocks 152 to further the theme and to allow the proper directional
force to be applied to the corresponding water element to achieve the desired water
Figure 4 is a front elevational view illustrating another embodiment of the
present invention still carrying the remote island theme. In this embodiment, water
is supplied to the ground-level tub 220. A play participant must manually operate
the 1-man pump 224 which sends water up the interior of the simulated bamboo
mast 228 and exits the coconut shower 232. As the water exits the coconut shower
232, it fills a tipping vessel 236. A play participant may then selectively pull the
tipping vessel pull-rope 240 which dumps the water into an internal float tank 248
hidden by a bamboo curtain 252. As this process is repeated, a floating object, in
this case in the form of a rising tiki 244, rises from behind the bamboo curtain 252
and may trigger sound effects to surprise and entertain the play participants. The
water may be emptied from the internal float tank 248 by operation of another
coconut shower pull-rope 256 which actuates the coconut shower 260. As the
coconut shower 260 is actuated, the rising tiki 244 disappears behind the bamboo
curtain 252 and the process may be repeated.
Figure 5 is a plan view of the structure of Figure 4 showing another view
of the described structure. It should be appreciated that a play participant, standing
at the base of the bamboo mast, can operate the pump and pull-ropes to remotely
raise the rising tiki head to surprise and entertain play participants located near that
part of the structure.
Figure 6 is a front elevational view and another embodiment of the present
invention. In this embodiment, a play participant controls the flow of water by
means of a flow control hand wheel 320. The water supply travels up the bamboo
mast and exits the rotating pipe fall 324, which may be selectively rotated to supply
water to either the water wheel 328 or the tipping vessel, in this case a clam shell
332. As water passes through the water wheel 328, it spills into a tipping trough
336 which automatically tips and dumps the collected water onto the play
participants below. A play participant may turn the pipe fall hand wheel 326, which
turns the rotating pipe fall 324 to deliver water to the tipping vessel, in this case the
clam shell 332. As the tipping vessel clam shell 332 fills with water, it will
automatically tip to spill the water into a bamboo trough 344 which contains an exit
pipe 348 to deliver the water to a multi-ordered runnel set 340. The water will spill
through the subsequent runnels and eventually onto a waiting play participant
Figure 7 is a side elevational view of Figure 6 illustrating the structure and
sequence of events triggered by the tipping vessel clam shell 332. It should be
appreciated that a play participant operating the hand wheel 320 through a chain of
events, can cause water to flow through the system and spill remotely from the
Figure 8 is a plan view of the structure of Figure 6 showing the relative
orientation of the water play elements. Again, it should be appreciated that a play
participant, operating the pipe fall hand wheel can start a sequential chain of events
resulting in a remote spilling of water from either the tipping trough 336 or the
Although this invention has been disclosed in the context of certain
exemplary embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the
present invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other
alternative embodiments of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the
present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed
embodiments described above, and should be determined only by reference to the